Friday, September 24, 2010

Question from Jim in St. Louis - Descent of Henry VIII's wives

Were ALL of Henry VIII wives decended from the same ancesestor - namely old Edward III?
I can find that Anne and Katherine Howard are easy (!) to trace back to Edward III, but the others- I'm not so sure.


Marilyn R said...

A few years ago I wrote a book called 'The Bare Bones of British Royal Family Trees' ( and spent a long time showing that Henry VIII and all his wives were descended from King Edward I (reigned 1272-1307) and his two wives Eleanor of Castile and Margaret of France. Henry himself and Katherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr descend from Eleanor, while the Howard cousins Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard are from Margaret (Marguerite) through her son Thomas of Brotherton and his great-grandson Thomas Mowbray, first Duke of Norfolk. Thomas Mowbray’s grandson, John Howard, the first Howard Duke of Norfolk, was a great-grandfather of Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard.

Edward III was the grandson of Edward I and Queen Eleanor, but if we dig deeper into the ancestry of all of Henry VIII’s wives, especially through their female lines, I’m sure there will be links to him.

Incidentally, that chart led to my years of research on the Mowbray family in general which last week took me back to the site of Kathryn Howard’s house in Lambeth, where she lived with the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and where Henry VIII came by barge from his palace across the river to see her, even though he’d only just married Anne of Cleves. There is no sign of the house above ground but I was given a Tudor brick from an excavation carried out prior to a hotel being built there several years ago.

The old Duchess and Anne Boleyn’s mother, Elizabeth Howard, were buried in the church opposite, but when it was rebuilt in Victorian times little respect was shown to the monuments and no trace remains, although it is possible that the bodies lie under the floor of the Howard chapel, now used as the cafeteria for the Garden Museum!

I had planned to do two sessions in Lambeth but the museum was closed on Friday for security reasons during the Pope’s visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace next door. On the Saturday I was unintentionally in the right place at the right time when he came out of the Treasury off Whitehall.

A Pope in Lambeth Palace, and Westminster Hall - speaking on the very spot where Thomas More was condemned - as well as making a visit to Westminster Abbey: poor old Henry VIII must be turning in his grave!

Lara said...

Here's a chart from Antonia Fraser's "Six Wives" book (I got this from the illustrated edition):

I believe there is an error up in the Brabant/Segrave though, but as Marilyn has researched, they do still all have connections to Edward I.

Marilyn R said...

Lara's right about the Segrave/ Brabant error. Fraser's chart says Margaret of Brotherton married both John III of Brabant and Lord John Segrave, but Brabant's wife was Marie d'Évreux,the daughter of count Louis d'Évreux and Margaret of Artois.

This is an unexpected error for someone of Lady Antonia Fraser's status.

Marilyn R said...

Hi Jim

Thinking about it, I would connect
Anne Boleyn's & Kathryn Howard's ancestry to Edward III through Katherine Neville, her mother Joan Beaufort & Joan's father John of Gaunt.If you have any different ways I'd love to know.

Gareth Russell said...

It is also worth noting, on a point of trivia, that both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were descended from Adeliza of Louvain, the second wife of King Henry I (r. 1100 - 1135), by her second marriage to William, Earl of Arundel. Which is rather touching considering Adeliza's own lucklessness in bearing the first King Henry a son.